Have you recently adopted a new puppy? If so, congratulations!
One of the most joyous events we can think of is bringing home a new puppy. And once you have adopted your little pup, it will be helpful for you to have a handy guide that lays out which steps you should be taking next. And that’s exactly why we wrote this article for you! In the following paragraphs, you will learn how to care for your new dog, the steps to take to prepare him for his new home, and how you can build an obedient and happy relationship between you two. In doing so, you will be preparing your puppy to live by your side for many happy years!
Step 1 – Your Puppy Exam
The first thing you should do is schedule your pet for a checkup. If you haven’t scheduled your checkup yet, just give us a call at (913) 912-2319. We come to your home to examine your pup! There are a few reasons why this first checkup is so important:
- During a physical exam, we are able to look for any potential health problems, birth defects, or any health issues that could cause trouble down the road. Most puppies are fine, but if we spot any, they are much easier to deal with early on rather than later.
- We will set up your preventive health care plan. This will include your new dog’s vaccine schedule, parasite prevention, etc.
- We will educate you on what health conditions puppies are most susceptible to, along with how to spot the symptoms of these conditions.
- We can discuss spaying or neutering your puppy (if he/she isn’t already). This helps to prevent overcrowding in shelters, and has powerful health benefits for dogs (such as lowering the risks for some cancers).
- We can help you set up a plan and guidelines for how to socialize your puppy. We will make sure you know which environments are the most productive and safe for your new pet.
Step 2 – Housetraining your dog
Training your pup is actually quite simple. It just takes three ingredients:
- Positive Reinforcement
These principles are your best friend in training your new dog to adapt well to his new home and family. This process can take a few months to fully complete, but the payoff is oh-so-worth it. Here are some handy steps to follow:
- Make sure your puppy is kept on a regular feeding schedule. As soon as he is finished eating, take away his food so he doesn’t have access to it until the next meal time.
- Take your puppy outside first thing every morning so he can urinate. Do the same every night right before bed. When possible, take him outside during the day in hourly intervals so they can go to the bathroom.
- Immediately after he finishes urinating or defecating, give him a bunch of excited praise. You want to make sure he knows you love what he just did. It’s often helpful to bring healthy treats to reward him with right after.
- If/when your puppy has an accident in the house, make sure not to scold or punish him. It will only create anxiety in the relationship. Instead, if you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly (to get his attention) and gently lead him outside to the preferred spot. If/when he finishes outside, praise him as you normally would.
- When you find urine or feces after the act, it’s extra important not to scold or punish your puppy. A puppy is unable to connect the two actions. Instead, just get yourself an enzymatic cleanser and spray it on the spot to remove the stain and scent. This is important because leaving the scent there can prompt your pup to use the same spot again.
Step 3 – Obedience Training
It is vital to teach your pup to obey you, along with his environment’s boundaries. It works to bond you two for life, and it creates a much safer environment for your pet. Sometimes, a simple “come” command can keep a dog from a dangerous situation. There are four behaviors that every dog should be taught. We’ll go over them here, and guide you along with how to properly implement them.
Tip: Again, consistency, repetition, and positive reinforcement are your best friends. Puppies train best when you keep training intervals short – around 5-10 minutes each, and when you practice a few times a day. Make sure not to repeat a command if they don’t obey the first time.
- Kneel in front of your puppy.
- Take a treat and hold it close to his nose. Once you have his attention, raise the treat slowly above him, allowing his head to follow it.
- As his head raises, his bottom will naturally lower. As it hits the floor, reward him immediately with the treat. Praise him excitedly.
- After you’ve done this a few times, begin to pair the action with the “sit” command.
- Put a long leash on your dog and take him out to the yard. Allow him to explore a bit, keeping plenty of slack on the leash.
- Follow from a distance. Choose a “maker” word – such as “treat” or “yes.” Walk backwards a bit, and when your puppy begins to notice and walk towards you, say your marker word. As soon as he reaches you, immediately act excited and give him his treat.
- Begin to pair the action with the “come” command.
- Fix a leash on your pup and get him to sit next to you.
- Hold up a flat hand to him and say “stay.”
- Walk a couple steps in front of your puppy. Wait for a second or two, and then step back to your original spot beside them. If he held his stay, immediately and excitedly praise and reward him.
- If he wasn’t able to hold his stay, just gently say “oops” and go back to your original position.
Loose Leash Walking
- Fix your puppy’s leash to their collar (or body harness). Cheerfully tell him “let’s go!”
- Pat your leg in order to encourage forward motion. As soon as your dog walks to your side, excitedly praise and treat him.
- Stop to praise them every few steps (when they are at their proper place, by your side).
- If/when your dog wanders ahead or falls behind, just stop and allow him to explore.
- Once your pup starts to come back to you, use your praise marker (such as “treat” or “yes”) and treat him excitedly as they come to your side.
- If your dog starts to pull, immediately stop all of your motion. Frozen, wait until your pup returns to your side. Be patient.
We recommend bookmarking this guide so you can refer to it at any time in your journey into puppy ownership. And remember, you always have a veterinary team that is here to help you at Neighborhood Vets – we’re here to make sure that your puppy lives a happy, healthy, and long life at your side!